Washington- US President Donald Trump criticized on Thursday the appointment of a special counsel to lead the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Two days after Trump became president, Comey attended a ceremony that Trump hosted honoring law enforcement officials and tried to blend in with the curtains to avoid being noticed by the president, according to a report by The New York Times.
And Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, pressured Mr Comey to counter media reports of contact between Trump associates and Russian Federation during the campaign, the paper reported. Mr Trump is also said to have the director, who he later fired, to pledge his loyalty. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI’s Russian Federation investigation.
The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.
This was only one of many interactions with Trump that reports now indicate made Comey uncomfortable.
He had previously admitted that the investigation was part of the reasoning for the decision. “Everybody thinks so”, Trump said. “There is no collusion – certainly myself and my campaign – but I can always speak for myself and the Russians – zero”, he said at a joint press conference with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
“By grandstanding and politicising the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia”, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
When asked whether he had urged Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation, Trump quickly replied: “No. No. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations”. “Russian Federation is fine”, the president said.
The US Department of Justice appointed former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Muller as special counsel to probe possible ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian Federation.
He also accused Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Obama administration of conducting “illegal acts” with no special counsel appointed for them.
However, Mueller’s appointment saw a rare consensus between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who applauded the pick.
Asked point-blank if he’d done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no – and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: “I think it’s totally ridiculous”.